This week we caught up with Camille, also known online as This American Girl. Check out her top Costa Rica destination picks, how her yoga practice has changed the way she sees travel, and more in this week’s Girls That Go!
GGG: Hey, there! Who are you, where are you from originally, and how did you get your start traveling?
Hi! I’m Camille, originally from Seattle. When I first left the USA to travel my intention was only to be away for a few months… but here I am still on the road three years later! I planned to return and start graduate school but after spending time in Costa Rica I fell in love with the free lifestyle. So instead of starting school I returned home, sold everything, and made travel my life. I’ve been to over twenty countries since then.
GGG: Sweet! You’ve been living in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica (we love Costa Rica, too!). What is your favorite part about your expat life? Most surprising?
I guess I can’t exactly call myself an expat since I typically spend only a couple of months at a time here, but this is certainly the place I consider home. My favorite thing about being here is how easy it is to feel good. I have so much less than I ever thought I would have needed, and yet I feel like I have everything I could ever want. I eat delicious, healthy food, live in an adorable house across from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and have a community of amazing people here who inspire me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Most surprising is that I pictured myself living in New York City with a “fancy life” and now here I am this beach bum jungle hippie and I couldn’t be happier.
GGG: If you were to take someone on a tour of Costa Rica, where would be your must-sees?
My absolute favorite places in the country? Puerto Viejo Talamanca (duh!), Corcovado National Park, and Tortuguero. Alright, some shameless self promotion here, but I’m releasing my Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica ebook in the coming weeks. It’s packed with pages and pages of colorful images, travel itineraries, and advice for travelers to Costa Rica. So, if you really want to see Costa Rica with me, you’ll have to check out the e-book!
GGG: You’ve spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia. Do you have any tips you’d share with a first-timer heading that way?
My biggest piece of advice is one that was given to me again and again. Start your trip in Thailand. I of course didn’t take that advice, started in Vietnam, and struggled my way through Vietnam until finally going to Thailand. But really, it’s the best way to ease into the area and you will meet tons of other solo travelers immediately. On a deeper note, be especially conscious of the imprint you as a traveler are making by being there. I try to emphasize this no matter where you travel, but in Southeast Asia it’s particularly important. Development is happening rapidly, extreme poverty and hunger are very real issues, and corruption is rife. Do your research before visiting ethnic villages, riding on elephants, and buying from children. Treat each place you visit with the respect that you when entering someone’s home.
GGG: Sounds like great advice. Yoga and healthful living are important to your life, and therefore important to your travel. How have you found them to change the way you see the world?
When you start practicing yoga, it changes the way you see everything. In the state of yoga we connect with the present moment, we detach from past occurrences and future outcomes, and we remove judgement from everything. This is of course incredibly difficult to do, which is why it’s practice 😉 Yoga and travel are such amazing complements to one another because traveling the world often forces you to be present in order to simply survive. In yoga we also learn to find peace and happiness from within, which can be very grounding when everything around you is constantly changing. Most of all, yoga shows me a way to look at the world through a more loving lens, to go with the flow no matter what happens on my journey, and to see that at the core every living thing is essentially the same.
GGG: Are there places you’ve traveled where you feel like your healthy lifestyle is easier to maintain?
Absolutely. It’s one of the main reasons why I always come back to Costa Rica. I like to be in places where being physically active doesn’t take effort, it just happens naturally. In the beach towns in Costa Rica most people get around on foot or by bicycle and what we do for fun includes surfing, yoga, hiking, and all kinds of outdoor sports. It’s basically impossible to not exercise every day here. There’s also access to organic produce from farmer’s markets and small specialty shops carry some of my faves from home like quinoa and organic tahini. Besides all of that, this place is so green! That means clean air which is likely the biggest factor in overall health.
GGG: Quick-fire: Favorite on-the-road snack? Young coconut or raw almonds Best place to watch a sunset? Otres Beach, Cambodia Favorite yoga spot? Pavones Yoga Center, Costa Rica Must-have comfort food? Spicy coconut curry or dark chocolate brownie
GGG: Any fun journeys we can expect for you in the near future?
In January 2015 I will begin a journey in the snow, in the cold, in Europe. I’ll be traveling alongside Raphael from A Journey of Wonders
, figuring out how to not freeze my cheeks while filming a video series (get ready to see us for the fools we truly are) featuring the most spectacular nature in the Western World. After spending the last three years back and forth in Costa Rica, one of the ten greenest countries on the planet, I’m going to discover the other nine in Europe.
All photos in this post courtesy of Camille Willemain.